Originally posted by Toothpickman:
What is your opinion of the new 10 year old certification that many diving organizations are offering? Do you think that a 10 year old can make a competant diver? What age (older or younger) do you think should be the youngest a diver should be before they can be certified?
1. I do not believe that 10 year olds have the cognitive ability to understand the concepts that will be presented in the classroom and in the water. Even if they can pass the tests and perform the skills set forth by agency standards, they do not have the cognitive ability to understand how their actions underwater could ultimately end up in death. In the stage of development that they are (from a psychosocial point of view), their understanding is that no harm can come to them, they are invincible. Why do we wish to place them in a situation that requires a grasp of concepts that they are cognitively unable to understand and implement appropriately? Furthermore, I believe that 12 and 13 is too young for the same reasons. Add to that the attention span that man pre-adolescents have and you have a recipe for disaster.
2. Please see #1. I do not believe that a 10 year old can be a competent diver. By definition, a competent diver can not only fend for themselves, but can also help or support another diver. If agencies believe that divers under 12 can not dive without a parent present (or professional), then how can they be considered competent? Most of the responsibility is place on the parent or professional. If you disagree, just ask yourself, what is the rationale for putting young divers with a parent or professional? And, is it really safe to put children and parents together? I've seen many disagreements topside and over-protectedness on the parents part that the child never learns anything. No, I really don't believe a 10 year old can be competent; sometimes I even question if a 12-15 year old can be.
3. I believe that 15 is a good age to start. Not only are the concepts that are presented in the classroom concurrent with their high school education, they are also more capable in the water as far as comfort and stamina. Their concepts of right and wrong and death are more concrete, they are able to handle equipment easier, and their attention span is greater.
To beat it into a rug, I think that offering scuba to anyone under 12 (and even that is too young) is the biggest mistake that training agencies have made. I do not care about empirical data put forth by CMAS in regards to younger divers; I care about the safety of the children. How can one be safe if they can not understand that concept? I think that children should be allowed to be children; why do we want to make them grow up so fast? If a family that dives together stays together, then let's not set up children to fail. There is a time and place to learn scuba, it will always be there waiting for the right moment. Don't rush a good thing!